· We are designed to be together and tell stories together, shows like Come From Away inspire hope and help lift audiences and is a perfect example of the type of musical theatre we need now, more than ever.
· Many of our artists, crew, and production people are self-employed contractors trying just trying to feed their families, advance their art, and be a constructive part of our society.
· Yet, the devastating impact of the closure of theatres across the sector mean that our casts, crews, and production staff have found themselves, suddenly through no fault of their own, out of work – their incomes and work evaporated overnight with no support from the government for the sector.
· The pandemic has been incredibly damaging to the whole industry that supports hundreds of thousands of people. Just think of the supply chain supporting a simple show composed of not just dancers, actors, and producers but technicians, costumes, wigs, front of house staff, marketing agencies, ticket sellers, janitors, consessions, and the list goes on.
· A report by Oxford Economics wars of a potential 400,000 job losses and a £74bn loss in annual revenue across the arts industry, in what they described as a “cultural catastrophe” wrought by the entire shutdown of arts venues and live events amid the Covid-19 crisis.
The process of opening
· There is a sign of optimism as theatres open and we reengaged with shows like the award winning West End production of Come From Away this summer and Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker in November.
· Just like the need to open our churches and allow our congragations to engage in singing, live in-person shows are badly needed right now as it gives audiences a spark of hope as we emerge from troubling times.
· Through both the Church and the arts it is critical that we leverage our liturgy and storytelling to deliver a blast of humanity and public displays of human kindness that we can all relate to and all participate in.
· Come From Away is the remarkable true story of the 7,000 air passengers from all over the world who were grounded in Canada during the wake of 9/11, and the small Newfoundland community that invited these ‘come from aways’ into their lives.
· We are finding that there are great sparks of hope during this crazy time. We have been developing a new musical based on the gunpowder plot called ‘Treason’ that has attracted investment, commissioned new music, developed new stories, and been performed in concert, all during lock-down. In fact, lock-down gave us the advantage that we were able to ‘test drive’ our emerging music using some of the very best West End talent that we would otherwise be unable to access.
· The competitive rivalry will be significant as there will be significant product emerging into our UK market place which is great news for our domestic audiences. We will have the great shows that were successfully running before the pandemic, the showed that had planned to emerge into the sector over the past 18 months, the tsunami of shows that have been developed during lock down, and international productions looking at a move to the UK. All of this investment and action will benefit our UK audiences and provide a portfolio or stories to engage their hearts and minds.
· Emerging shows like ‘Treason’ are testing new ways to develop including engaging arts students, youth theatre, and well known theatre experts to ensure diverse input into the production. The pandemic has made people think about new ways of producing, new ways of working with their casts and crews, and new ways of engaging audiences. Like the Church we can see the pandemic as a significant threat or an opportunity to reimagine how we tell our stories.
Read the latest edition of The Bridge, our Diocesan newspaper, at southwark.anglican.org/thebridge.